Cal At Stanford: February 17 NCAA Free Picks

Cal Golden bears

Joe Catalano

Friday, February 17, 2017 6:38 PM GMT

Friday, Feb. 17, 2017 6:38 PM GMT

Winners of 5 out of their last 6, the California Golden Bears find themselves with a very winnable game Friday as they square off against the sub-.500 Stanford Cardinal. This is a Pac-12 game that NCAA Tournament hopeful Cal can ill afford to lose.

California Golden Bears (18-7, 9-4) At Stanford Cardinal (12-13, 4-9)

Although not a ranked team, the Golden Bears aren't far from being an AP Top 25 team. With possibly 1 or 2 more quality victories, California should crack the top 25. In their last game, they had an opportunity to turn some heads but couldn't seal the deal as Arizona abruptly ended California's 5-game winning streak with a 62-57 victory. California's strength all season was its weakness in that game as it managed just 24 overall rebounds and Ivan Rabb was unable to get on track, finishing the game with just 4 points and 3 rebounds.

For Cal to be effective, their best player, Rabb, must be more aggressive in looking for his shot and protect the glass like he's been doing all season.  One positive that can be taken away from that game for Cal is the play of senior guard Jabari Bird. He finished with 19 points and 4 rebounds and was a legitimate threat from beyond the arc. As the level of competition takes a dramatic drop in this game, I look for both Bird (14.5 points, 4.9 rebounds) and Rabb (14.7 points, 10.6 rebounds) to have big games as Stanford's defense isn't capable of containing either player.

While Stanford wasn't expected to contend for a Pac-12 title, nobody expected this team to be 12-13 and a virtual doormat for the opposition in the Pac-12. Stanford has lost 5 out of their last 6. A loss to Arizona is expected, but the Cardinal are experiencing difficulties in dealing with teams such as Arizona State.

One matchup that will be interesting is Stanford forward Reid Travis (17.2 point, 8.6 rebounds) in dealing with Rabb. Travis has is more of an offensive-oriented player and still has the size and strength to frustrate Rabb if Rabb plays like he did against Arizona. Look for this matchup to be a key factor in this game. While I have confidence in Travis, I don't have confidence in the Cardinal as a team.

NCAAB Free Pick: Cal -2.5Best Line Offered: 5Dimes

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